How COVID-19 is changing Valentine’s Day this year

Retail Gets Real episode 206: Consumers keep celebrations close to home
Nkongho Beteck
Manager, Social Media and Digital Content
February 9, 2021
Retail Gets Real is sponsored by

Valentine’s Day is known as the holiday for showing affection to those you care about most. With COVID-19 changing how we celebrate holidays, consumers are reimagining how to spread love from a safe social distance.

Data from NRF surveys over the last few months show that 52 percent of adults are planning to celebrate Valentine’s Day. That’s slightly lower than last year (55%) but not as big of a difference as many expected given the circumstances, showing that people are looking for any opportunity or excuse to bring a little extra joy into their lives, or even just to mix up the routine.

While the participation rate is encouraging, consumers are much more limited in their activities than they have been in the past. That has led to a drop in planned spending; consumers are spending $165 on average this year, about $32 less than last year. People might be eating more dinners with loved ones at home and they might be buying presents for fewer people this year than they have in the past.

Online purchasing trends are on par with how consumers have been buying gifts this past year: About 39 percent of consumers say they’re planning to buy their Valentine’s gifts online this year — the highest in the survey’s history. At the same time, one in five people say they are planning to buy from a local or small business, a completely new trend.

“People are very aware of what’s happening in their local communities,” says Katherine Cullen, NRF’s senior director of industry and consumer insights. “They’re looking for things that are meaningful, whether that’s meaningful to support a small business or finding a unique gift that you can give to a loved one.”

Cullen joins the Retail Gets Real podcast to share how Valentine’s Day is evolving this year and how consumers are finding unique ways to connect.

More from the podcast

How teen entrepreneur Jungmin Kang built a multi-million dollar slime business
Retail Gets Real episode 327: The founder and CEO of Snoopslimes talks about starting a business.
Read more
How Burlington drives impactful change with its DEI strategy
Burlington store
Retail Gets Real episode 326: Mecca Mitchell shares her thoughts on community impact, leadership and organization.
Read more
Retail leaders rally to fight retail crime
Individuals on Capitol Hill for Fight Retail Crime Day 2023.
Retail Gets Real episode 325: NRF’s David Johnston on the problem of organized retail crime.
Read more